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The Embargo Issue

A Truth For A Truth On An Eye For An Eye

Everyone loves a good revenge story, so we collected a bunch of them, and spoke to three shrinks and a goofy skater we met on the street, and had them comment on our friends’ revenge stories.
2.6.10

At first this was only supposed to be an innocent little molehill of a piece—everyone loves a good revenge story, so we collected a bunch of them, and then read up on the subject and BAM! stumbled on a mountain of paradoxes the scale of Plato’s mind-body problem. Only by questioning why revenge is frowned upon when it’s so popular, why it’s seen as bad when it feels good, and where you draw the line. We spoke to three shrinks and a goofy skater we met on the street, and had them comment on our friends’ revenge stories.

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

A conversation with Tomas Böhm, a Swedish psychoanalyst who wrote the book Revenge or Restoration together with his psychoanalyst wife, Suzanne Kaplan.

Vice: How is revenge viewed from a psychologist’s perspective?

Tomas Böhm:

Why?

TB:

I read a similar theory in a NY Times article by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, proving that if someone hits us, we’ll hit them back harder, thinking we get even. So instead of an eye for an eye, it turns into an eye for an eyelash.

TB:

I guess that’s the New Testament’s way of looking at it, in which God is forgiving instead of vengeful. But let’s put religion aside. How do you explain the fact that revenge feels good?

TB:

Like a natural defense mechanism?

TB:

Considering Newton’s third law of physics, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, doesn’t revenge qualify as a natural reaction?

TB:

So you think we should listen to Yoda?

TB:

Tomas Böhm and his wife’s book

is out in Swedish and German and will be released in English next year.

A conversation with psychologist Madeleine Gauffin— Sweden’s own Dr Phil, assigned to advise readers of the country’s biggest newspaper on matters of the heart and mind.

Vice: What advice do you give people wanting to get revenge?

Madeleine Gauffin:

Well… What if crying is not your thing?

MG:

Right. What do you think about people who believe in the justice of “an eye for an eye”? Like vigilantes taking the law into their own hands, as our legal system isn’t always effective.

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

MG:

Like Batman?

MG:

That’s actually the main thing I wanted to find out from this conversation. Is revenge really bad for you, as an individual, or just bad for the retaining of order in society?

MG:

Like that witch saying, if you cast a spell on someone it’ll come back to you threefold? Or like karma police?

MG:

Can’t you say that’s what getting revenge is, though? To take on the karma police role?

MG:

What about a little harmless revenge then, if it can make you feel better?

MG:

For more on Madeleine Gauffin, visit madeleinegauffin.se

A conversation with psychotherapist Thomas Silfving who has written a bunch of books on revenge.

Vice: Despite most psychologists blacklisting revenge, you end your book, The Many Faces of Revenge, by admitting to having respect for it as an “innate, strong, and sometimes justifiable feeling.”

Thomas Silfving:

Would you say you are for it?

TS:

…instead of displacing them on someone else, by getting back at them?

TS:

In your book you also bring up the idea of how not getting revenge can possibly cause mental illness.

TS:

Thomas Silfving’s book

is out in Swedish on Mareld

A goofy skater we met on the street.

Vice: Hi there, if a guy punches you in the face for no reason and then leaves, do you want to get back at him?

Gerhard Kregg:

What does money have to do with it?

GK:

A shrink would tell you punching back is sinking to the offender’s level and also denying your own violent action, by believing it’s legit.

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

GK:

You can’t really argue with that.

GK:

DEBBIE, London

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TB:

MG:

TS:

GK:

SAMUELE, Rome

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MG:

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GAVIN, London

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MG:

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JONCHA, Paris

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MG:

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RACHEL, New York

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TB:

MG:

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ANNA, Stockholm

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TB:

before

after

MG:

TS:

GK:

MARILYN, Munich

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MG:

TS:

GK: